Burglar (Book 2)

11/29 - Burglar is for sale on Amazon for 2.99 now. I'm now editing Book 3. Faith will edit starting on the 9th so I have to hurry.


11/23/12 - Burglar is back for the editor (about a week now) and I am doing my editing on her edits (it's a chore). I am through chapter 9 so far. I hoped to be done by Monday, but I am running a bit behind so that may not be doable. We shall see. Spending a lot of time on Twitter trying to get the word out.


11/5/12 - Burglar should be in editing now and I should get it back by the end of the week and the I will have to do my thing. I should finish crossbow today or tomorrow so I can do The Last Killer Standing and get it out.


11/1/2012 - Book 2 has been sent to Faith (pprior to the storm). I should have it back in a week or two. I am getting buried in editing (Book 2 soon, Book 3 on my own now, The Last Killer Standing waiting - Once I get it done it can go to Amazon.)


10/25/12 - The edits are done as of a couple of days ago) and it will go to Faith on the 4th (or so I have been told). And then, after her edits, I will do my edits and then it will go to Amazon.


10/14/12 - Thus far I have reedited chapters 1-4 and 1/2 of five. I have actually been spending a lot of time trying to line up reviewers for Book 1. Thus far I have located about ten but some of them say they can't ost to Amazon. I'm still trying to figure out why.


10/12/12 - Just finished editing the 


9/25/12 - Book 2 editing is done and the book is ready to go to the professional editor. I will probably edit a couple of chapters of Book 3 sandwiched in between writing on Book 4.


9/24/12 - I've now gotton through Chapter 29. Only 3 more to go. I'll definately be through today and the book will be ready for the professional editor.


9/23/12 - I've gotton through Chapter 17. 15 to go.


9/22/12 - I've gotton through Chapter 8 so far. There 32 chapters.


9/21/12 - I'm editing this manuscript for the last time before it goes to Faith Williams, a professional editor.


The cover for Book 2:


The Hook:

When there is a rash of burglaries in Canary Corners, West Virginia, the sheriff asks Adam to use his finder skills to help figure out who the burglar is. Unbidden, Bagel, Adam's beagle, offers clues through the use of Boggle dice and the game of colors to help Adam and the sheriff solve the mystery of the burglar. Authors note: This book series will never have any curse works (not one), any overt sex (the most is the ocassional smile, wink and maybe slight innuendo), or overt bloodshed (someone is always murdered, but, as the reader, you only find out after the fact, you will not be a witness to the murder).

The first 5 chapters are here. They have been edited substantiallyby me (at least four times each) but the book is going to be professionally edited before release on Amazon and KDP (hopefully, early in December).\
When Adam buys Marti flowers, he always complses a verse. The one found in this book is:
May these roses convey,
What I feel for you each day.
My love grows stronger every minute,
My bed is so empty without you in it.
Love, Ram.

Chapter 1

Adam Martin Swope arrived at Marti Blossom's house, in her well-kept neighborhood in Canary Corners, West Virginia, at precisely five-fifteen as had been previously arranged.

"Good evening, my Lady," Adam said after Marti answered the door. "Ready to go?"
"Did you think there was any possibility that I wouldn't be?"
"None at all. It's just something to say." Adam leaned over giving her a deeply passionate and meaningful kiss. "Where are your bags?"
"They're in the bedroom. Follow me."
Adam had been in her house as far as the living room, but hadn't been invited into the bedroom yet. He still held out hope that he would be and not just to get her bags. Just now, however, they were going to Maine to visit Adam's sister, Sarah, and see her son in a play.
Adam picked up the bags heading for the front door.
"Did you ever find out what play your nephew’s in?"
"I did. It's a musical called ‘The Pirates of Blue Hill Bay.’"
Marti stopped and thought a moment as she fished her key out of her purse and locked the deadbolt on her door. "Never heard of it."
Adam didn't respond as they walked to the car. He opened the back of his minivan, put her bags next to his, closing the tailgate. "I'm not surprised. According to Sarah, someone local wrote the play. It’s very loosely based on a true story about some pirate ships that used to frequent Blue Hill Bay in Maine." He walked to the passenger side of the car, opened the door for her, then hurried to the other side letting himself in. "Apparently the guy took several years to write the play and compose the songs in it." Adam pulled away from the curb.
"How many songs are there?"
"Sarah wasn't sure. She hasn't seen the entire play yet, but she thinks there are five songs according to what Ryan has told her."
"Does Ryan sing in the play?"
"Yes. He sings in the chorus on one of the songs then has a duet with a girl on another. He even has a bit of a solo in that one."
"Cool. How’s his voice?"
"Honestly, I don't know. I heard him sing in a school pageant several years ago, but haven't heard him sing since. Apparently, his choir teacher’s been giving him private lessons after school. Sarah says he’s good now, but I take anything she says about her kids with a grain of salt. I think she's a bit partial."
"She wouldn't be much of a mother if she wasn't."
"True. How was your week?"
Marti told Adam about the essays her student's had written about their most memorable characters. She spent the rest of their short trip to the airport in Charleston regaling him with some of the better stories. He thought a couple of them were especially touching. Naturally, most of them were about their parents, but several were about a favorite aunt or simply a neighbor. Those were the ones he found the most interesting.
"Maybe I could interview a couple of the kids and their parents for Ram's Ramblings." Adam hoed to continue to  hide from his past life as a dual lottery winner and his notoriety as a finder, by writing for the Canary Corners Tweet, the local newspaper owned by his longtime friend Larry Archibald. Larry hired him to write a blog and column for the Tweet called Ram's Ramblings. SinceLarry had always been a notorious skinflint, Adam s wrote for him without pay under the condition that Adam could write about anything that struck his fancy as long as Larry deemed the subject matter appropriate. Adam didn't need to be paid anyway since he had become quite rich from his fifty million and eighty million dollar lottery wins. He continued hiding under the pseudonym of Robert Adam Madigan or Ram and had decided on the catchy title of his column and blog  that Ram’s Ramblings.
“I'm sure the kids would be thrilled to be interviewed for the Tweet. I imagine the subject of the interview would be appropriately excited as well although some of them are not around anymore. Perhaps you could interview the ones that are though. I don't think it’d be wise to write Rambles based solely upon what my students have been told or perhaps witnessed. Their memories might not be very reliable.”
“Agreed. I could start with the students, then interview the subjects of their papers if they’re still alive of course. You’re right, that I would need to check the facts, when possible, before publishing anything. Based on what you’ve told me, I could possibly get more than one article out of some of them.”
“Not only possibly, I’d say probably.”
“We'll have to see.”
They reached the airport with no problem and Adam parked in the parking spaces set aside for those chartering planes. He got their bags out of the back of the car and they walked into the charter office pulling their wheeled bags. They checked in with the clerk at the counter and were quickly shown to the plane. Adam shook hands with the pilots then he and Marti settled into their seats for the hour long flight to Bangor, Maine. Adam felt that because there were no direct commercial flights from Charleston to Bangor, chartering a flight had to be the only way his short weekend visit could be consideret practical.
They passed the time with small talk and an improvised game of Boggle which is a word game that Adam and Marti had been playing virtually every time they’d been together. Adam had shaken the Boggle dice the night before and written down the matrix of letters. He had 16 such letter sets and they played 10 games before their plane landed. The normal time for a Boggle round is three minutes, but they played five-minute rounds to allow them to  pass more time and they could find more words. One game didn't last the full five minutes, however, because the letters were especially tough. After neither of them had come up any new words for a minute, they declared that the roundover. Being a reporter Adam considered himself good at word games, but since Marti taught high school  English, she still had a slight advantage. She won six out of the 10 games they played.
"I ought to know better than to play word games with you by now,” Adam said.
“You didn't enjoy yourself?"
“Of course I did, but it's embarrassing for a reporter to get beaten six out of 10 times.”
“I guess I’ve just read a wider variety of books then you have. As I recall, you said growing up that you read mostly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.”
“Good memory. That’s what I told you. You no doubt did read a wider variety of books than I did, beginning, of course, with Shakespeare.” Adam had told her he didn’t like Shakespeare and had never read any while she taught Shakespear to her students. “Besides which, you're smarter than I am anyway.”
“There you go with the blarney again.” Marti always accused Adam of speaking blarney just about any time he said something nice to her or about her to someone else. It's not as if she didn't appreciate the compliments he gave her, because she did. She just felt that she had to respond to the compliments in some way. Her great-aunt Livinia, Adam's neighbor in the Canary House apartments, had originally told her that Adam had to be full of blarney. The first time Marti and Adam met, she emulated her aunt by saying he spoke blarney and, since that time, she couldn't seem to stop telling him that .
“Not at all. I have no doubt that you’re smarter than I am.”
“Thanks. But I really doubt it. I couldn't be a crime reporter helping the police track down criminals like you seem to have a penchant for doing. I’d never have been able to figure out who killed Dr. Harrison as you did. Especially since the police seemed to have no clue.”
“That was really no big deal. I just had a few ideas, which led to clues, which ultimately led to Rodney Tabor, the killer. I only stumbled across him because I happened to get a flat tire and he just happened to work in the tire store where I went to get the tire fixed.”

As they left the plane afterlanding in Bangor pulling their bags and they walked into the terminal she said, “I want to thank you again for inviting me to come along to see your nephews play.”

 “No problem, I'm sure.” He turned to look at her with a serious expression on his face. “ Know this. I’ll always give you anything you desire as long as it's within my means to do so  and I’d be hard-pressed to think of anything that would be outside my means.”

“You bragging about your riches again?”
“Absolutely not. As I told you before, I'm not proud of my wealth since I came by my fortune by simply getting lucky with purchases and sales during the dot com boom.” He used this story which he’d told the people in Canary Corners to explain his wealth, while he hide from being a finder and the notoriety that came when he won the lotteries. If they knew where his money came from, it wouldn't be hard for them to figure out he the truth about his being the finder that had been written up many times by the Chicago newspapers. But, if they thought his money came from the stock market, there’d be no reason for them to pair him with the stories of the finder. “I only meant that I’d be more than happy to purchase anything your heart desires.”
“All my heart desires right now is to be here with you. Since I am, I really don't need anything else.”
He leaned over giving her a brief kiss. “I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that you consented to come with me on this trip.” She squeezed his hand a bit as they walked up to the rental car counter.
“As I said before, I was pleased that you asked me. I'm looking forward to seeing Ryan in the play.”
“I'm looking forward to it as well.” Adam turned his attention to the clerk. In short order, Adam had filled out the papers and got the keys from the clerk. As they walked out of the terminal to where the car waited, he said, “I don't think I've told you, but I once thought that I might like to study acting in college. I was in a couple of plays in high school and naturally, I thought I was pretty good. A nice write up or two in the school paper and I could scarcely get my head through the doorways into the classrooms.”
“No. You didn't tell me you were in plays in high school. What were you in?”
“I was in a couple of one act plays when I was a freshman and, honestly, I don't remember what the names of the plays were. I really only remember the one I was in when I was a senior. I was Mortimer in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ I presume you know what that is.”
“I doubt that there’s an English teacher anywhere in America that doesn't know the play ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’ You were Mortimer? That's a plum part. No wonder you toyed with studying acting.”
“Yeah, but I was in a couple of one-act plays when I was a freshman in college taking all the ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses that all freshmen have to take. Unfortunately, these one-act plays were comedies and I scarcely got a laugh. Because of that , I woke up to the harsh realization that I'm definitely not a comedic actor and scarcely an actor at all. That's when I decided that journalism was going to be my chosen profession. Of course, it didn't hurt that Larry was my best friend and that 's what he was already majoring in.”
They had reached the car and Adam walked to the trunk and loaded the bags, then he unlocked the passenger side helping her in. As he slid behind the steering wheel then started the car, she said, “Did Larry go to college with something else in mind?”
“No. Being a reporter was all that ever interested Larry. Remember those nice reviews, I mentioned.” She nodded. “Larry wrote one of them. He was probably overly nice.”
“Well, I'm sure Larry’s glad he talked you into journalism school.”
“Why? Just because I'm an excellent writer and he gets to use me for free?”
“I really doubt that using you for free has anything to do with it.”
“Oh yeah? You don't know Larry, like I know Larry. He's a skinflint's skinflint; a cheapskate’s cheapskate, a…”
“Okay,” she said. “I get the picture. I doubt if he's as bad as all that though.”
“I could tell you stories. But I won't bore you with them . Let's talk about something else that 's a little more pleasant. Tell me about more of the essays you received,” he said as he found the highway he needed  and headed toward Sarah’s house about an hour away.
“I will, but first I want to tell you something that you may not know. Just as you never told me you like to act, I never told you I like act. I belong to the Canary Corners community theater.”
“That doesn't surprise me. A lot of English teachers dabble in the theater, as I understand it anyway.”
She squeezed his hand excitedly and an extra sparkle came into her eyes. “We're actually trying to get a cast together right now for this year's Christmas performance of ‘A Christmas Carol.’”
“That's a great play. I must've seen it ten times growing up, and, naturally, I’ve seen the play on TV probably an equal number of times. You think there might possibly be a part in it for me? I assume you're going to be in the play.”
“I am if I get a part. I’d really like to play the ghost of Christmas past since that 's usually portrayed by a woman and I’ve doneplayed the ghost before.”
“Well, you certainly qualify for that , being a woman I mean.”
“All right, let's not start that again. Yes, to answer your question, I imagine there would be a part for you. I can't picture you as Scrooge, however. You're much too generous for that part. It would hardly be type-casting”
“You don't think I could play a curmudgeon?”
“Sweetheart, I think you could do anything you put your mind to.”
“Okay. Enough about that . Let me hear some more essays.”
She told him more of the ones she’d found the most interesting.. He gave her all the attention he could spare while still keeping his attention on hiss driving. They talked about the essays for the entire hour it took to get to Sarah’s house.
Chapter 2
“This is quite a place," Marti said as they drove up in front of Sarah's house.
“Yes it is. She and my mother bought the house before my mother passed away. My mother lived near here when she was growing up. Several of her friends from many years ago were at the funeral. The daughter of one of her friends took care of Ryan and Sheila while Sarah spent time with Mom at the hospital.”
Ryan opened the door and came running out just as Adam walked around to the passenger side of the car, to help Marti out. “Uncle Adam.” Ryan said excitedly, giving his uncle a hug. Marti looked at Adam quizzically wondering why Ryan called him “Uncle Adam”. As far as she knew, his name was, Ram, which was short for Robert Adam Madigan. She wanted to ask him, but thought she’d wait until they were alone.
As they walked to the house, a girl of about eight opened the door saying, “Uncle Adam,” before giving her uncle a hug.
“Adam,” Sarah said as she came into the living room. Sarah had been prepared to call Adam Ram or Robert but, since the kids called him Uncle Adam, she thought she’d better go along with the story he was sure to tell Marti, if he hadn't already
“Marti, this is my sister Sarah. As you've probably surmised this young man,” Adam pointed at his nephew, “Is Ryan, and this beautiful young lady is Sheila.”
Marti reached out a hand and Sarah shook her hand warmly. “So pleased to meet you, Sarah. Ram has told me a little bit about you and how lovely you are, but it's nice to finally meet you and learn that he’s been telling the absolute truth. Ram has a tendency towards blarney.”
“My dear brother speaks blarney? I don't believe it.” Sarah said with a smile and a wink.
“Based on your tone, I think you do believe it,” Marti said.
“Yes. Adam does have a tendency to exaggerate the truth. He didn't exaggerate about you, however. You’re every bit as beautiful as he described.”
"I see you have the gift of blarney too," Marti said.
"If you say so." Sarah looked at Adam, "Does she always have this much trouble accepting complements?"
"Seems so," Adam looked at Sarah. "What’re you doing home? I thought you told me you were the new night manager of the Far North Hotel?"
"I am. But even the night manager gets a night off now and again."
"Hello," Adam's aunt Mary came into the room. "Sorry but I was in my room and fell asleep."
"No problem. I'm Marti," Marti reached out her hand and Mary shook it.
"I'm their aunt, Mary, their mother's sister. She died a couple of months back."
"I know and I'm so sorry."
"Sarah tells me you're staying here so she can be the night manager at the Far North Hotel?" Adam said.
"I am. There wasn't anything to keep me in Bangor, so when Sarah told me about her promotion, I was happy to come help. I was only renting so  it was no problem to stay here. Actually, I appreciate the opportunity to be with the kids. I never seemed to be able to get here very often when Agnes was alive."
"Everyone understood why not, Aunt Martha," Sarah said.
"That may be, but I still felt guilty about not being here more often to see Agnes before she passed."
"It wasn't your fault you got a cold and the doctors wouldn't let you visit Mom anymore."
Mary shrugged.
"Did you have to rearrange your schedule to accommodate our arrival?" Marti asked Sarah.
"No. But even if I had, rearranging my schedule would’ve been worth it. Any friend of Adam's will become a fast friend of mine."
"I hope that 's true." Marti turned to Ryan. "I hear that you're playing a major character in the play and you sing a couple of songs."
Ryan nodded but didn't say anything.
"Is it true you have a solo?" Marti said.
"Yes. I've been practicing."
"So you're ready for tomorrow night?"
"He's ready. As a matter of fact, he's getting antsy," Sarah said.
"Ah, Mom," Ryan said.
"It's true," Sheila said.
Ryan punched at her arm good-naturedly.
"Now none of that . We have guests." Sarah said.
"Can we play Yahtzee?" Ryan said. They always played Yahtzee whenever Adam visited.
Adam looked at Sarah and she nodded. "But only one game. It's kind of late and you have a big night tomorrow," he said.
"Okay," Ryan said going into his bedroom to get the game.
"While he sets the game up, would you like to see the rest of the house, Marti?" Sarah said.
"I would. It's very nice."
"It is. My mother found it. We flew out here to look at the house, the yard, and surrounding area  and decided to buy it. She lived near here when she was no older than Sheila."
"We did," Mary said. "Our house wasn't nearly as nice as this, however. It burned down about fifteen years ago. There was nothing left but ashes."
"I know," Sarah said. "Mom told me. She was a bit sad."
"I was away when the fire happened. It was all over with before I even got back."
They walked into the kitchen. It was spacious with a sink in a large island. "Wow," Marti said. "This is some kitchen."
Sarah smiled. "I like it. There are more cupboards than I can fill. There's also a mud room with more cupboards through here." She led the way to the opposite end of the kitchen. The passageway to the back door housed a large area with cupboards above and below and a counter top on the right side. The left side had another sink built into its countertop.
"I'll bet this really comes in handy for coming in from the cold or if one is muddy," Marti said.
"It certainly does. The kitchen and this room are what sold Mom and me on this house. We looked at several others, but this was easily our favorite. We liked it even better than ones we looked at closer to the coast."
"I can see why," Marti continued to follow Sarah into a long hallway that led from the kitchen to the bedrooms.
"There are four bedrooms," Sarah continued to act as tour guide. "This one is mine," she indicated a bedroom with a lovely bedroom set with carvings on the drawer fronts. There was a dresser with an attached mirror and a five-drawer bureau. The bed cover and the curtains were off white covered with lavender roses.
"Very pretty," Marti said.
"This was Mom's bedroom. I liked everything so much that I haven't changed a thing. I just moved my clothes out of the bedroom I was in right into here. It has its own bathroom." Then she indicated a bedroom next to her own. "This is Sheila's." The room had been decorated with a little girl in mind. It contained a canopy bed, the pillow endof which had been  flooded with stuffed animals. Beside that  stood a mirrored desk. There were a couple of school books open on the desk. The dresser on the wall at the end of the bed stood at a little girls height. The drapes and coverlet on the bed were light blue and covered with ivy. The room had been thoroughly cleaned.
"I'm afraid the next room isn’t as clean." Sarah walked across the hall and opened a door. She looked surprised. The bed had been made, the floor had been cleared of any toys or stray clothes, the closet had been closed, and the books were neatly arranged on the desk.
"Ha ha," Ryan said. "Got you Mom." He’d come up behind them without anyone noticing.
"You did indeed sweet boy." She leaned over kissing his cheek. "When did you do this?"
"While you were cooking supper. Is it okay?"
"Much better than okay. I'm very impressed," she said.
"A boy with a clean room," Marti smiled. "What's wrong with this picture?"
"It's not wrong," Mary said. "Just unusual. I wish I could say the same for my room." The last room before the end of the hall remained closed. Sarah didn't open that door respecting Mary's privacy since that  the door opened into her room. The door at the end of the hall between Sheila's and Mary's bedrooms she did open just a little allowing her to look in before she opened the door wide so Marti could see. It consisted of a good amount of floor space with a shower in the bathtub The room had a double sink.
"Very nice," Marti said.
With that Sarah turned around and led them all back to the kitchen where Ryan had six Yahtzee score sheets spread around the table. One of the five dice sat on all but one of the sheets. A pencil rested beside each score sheet.
"I presume the die is to see who starts," Marti said as everyone sat in front of a score sheet.
"Yes," Ryan said and promptly threw a six.
Sarah also threw a six while the others threw lower numbers. Mary passed her die to Sheila and she also threw a lower number. Sarah and Ryan threw again. This time Ryan threw a five but Sarah had only a two.
"I'm first," Ryan said.
After he’d taken his turn he passed the dice to Marti sitting on his left. "Clockwise?" Marti said.
"Always," Sarah said.
They continued around the table until the game everyone had filled their cards  and Ryan had won easily as he had thrown the only Yahtzee.
"Another game?" Ryan said.
"The deal was one game," Adam said.
Ryan hung his head in mock disappointment though he actually felt slightly disappointed. "Shoot," he stood then walked around the table picking up the score sheets.
As Ryan and Sheila headed for the hallway, Sarah said, "No reading. I expect your lights to be out as soon as you get your teeth brushed."
"Yes, Mother," Sheila said as she and Ryan continued down the hallway into the bathroom.
Sarah turned around, looked at Adam, saying , "Shall we adjourn to the living room or do you want to go on to the Hotel?"
"That depends," Adam said. "Did you reserve our rooms?"
"I did and I made sure they knew you’d be in sometime after six."
"Then we don't have to be in a hurry."
"Would you like some tea and, maybe, a piece of coconut cherry pie?"
"Mom's recipe?"
"Yes. I made sure she taught me how to make the pie before she got sick again. It's not as good as she made, but it's okay."
"I'm sure it's good," Adam looked at Marti. "How about you? Mom made a mean coconut cherry pie. If Sarah's is even close..."
"Please. It sounds yummy," Marti said. "I love just about anything made with coconut."
"So do I," Adam said.
"You want the pie with tea or just with a glass of milk?"
"What kind of tea do you have?" Adam said. "Marti and I like mint with sugar and milk."
"It just  so happens I have some mint. With the pie, then?"
Marti nodded and Adam said, "That'll work."
"Do you need any help?" Marti said.
"I don't. But you're welcome to stay with me in the kitchen."
Marti looked at Adam. He nodded and followed Mary into the living room.
"It was real nice of you to come to watch the kids so Sarah could take her promotion," Adam said to Mary as they both sat down on the couch.
"I love being here with the kids. They’re really well behaved. Sarah did a wonderful job with them. Especially considering what happened to her husband." Bob, Sarah’s husband had been killed in a drive-by shooting in Chicago.
"She did. She's certainly a mother like few others."
"She is. Did I hear right that you live in West Virginia now?" Mary said.
"You did and I do. I'm writing for a small newspaper in a small town. It's called Canary Corners and the paper is the Tweet."
"I get it, Canary and Tweet. That's almost cute. Who named the paper?"
"My editor and long-time friend Larry Archibald bought the paper about a year ago. It was already called the Tweet and had been for something like a hundred years. You can't buck that kind of tradition, hence, Larry decided it wouldn't be prudent to change the name."
"That's probably smart. He might have made some of the subscribers angry."
"That's what he thought too."
"Where do you live?"
"You know me. Just like Mom and Dad, I need to be free to come and go so I just rented an apartment. It's a place called Canary House and my apartment neighbor is Marti's Great Aunt Livinia. She introduced us."
"Good for her. You two seem to be a nice couple." She leaned over whispering in his ear, “Have you told her yet?”
Adam shook his head and then looked to be sure Marti hadn’t  come to the  kitchen door and then said softly, "I’m still hiding but since she's someone I could consider breaking my hard and fast bachelor rule for, I might tell her soon."
Mary looked at him and smiled. "Does she know about your hard and fast rule?"
"Not yet, but maybe soon."
Now Marti did appear at the kitchen entrance and said, "Tea's ready. You two want to join us?"
"We do," Adam stood up and helped Mary to her feet. They walked into the kitchen and sat in front of the pieces of pie that were already served.
Adam sniffed the pie. "Smells like Mom's."
Sarah smiled. "Try it. I've been waiting for your expert opinion."
"I don't know that I'm an expert, but I do know what I like." He took a bite. "And this I like. I'd have to have some of Mom's pie to perform a taste test if I were to say this isn't as good as she made, because this pie sure does taste like it. It’s excellent." He took another bite.
Marti took a bite of hers. "I wholeheartedly agree. You'll have to give me the recipe. After all," she said with a wink, "The fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
"Are you trying to capture my brother's heart?"
"The thought has crossed my mind," she smiled at Adam.
He put his hand over hers on the table squeezing. "I don't think it’ll be too hard to catch. It's not as if it’s running away from you."
"You two had better fix your tea before it gets cold," Mary said.
They both nodded and Adam reached for the milk and handed it to Marti while he put sugar in his cup. She passed the milk back to him when she had finished  then put two scoops of sugar in her tea. They stirred their tea then took a sip, almost in unison.
"Very good Sis."
"Yes," Marti said, "Excellent tea."
They all settled down to drink their tea and eat their pie. After that Adam decided it that he and Marti should be heading to the hotel. As they started for the door, Marti snapped her fingers. "The pie recipe, if you don't mind my having it."
"Why should I mind," Sarah said. "After all, it's not my recipe anyway. Come back to the kitchen and I'll write the recipe down for you."
Marti followed Sarah back to the kitchen while Adam and Mary waited by the door. "Alone again," Mary quipped.
"There are few others I’d rather be alone with."
"Oh, stop it, though it warms an old lady's heart to hear you say something like that ."
"You're not that old."
"I'm looking back at 60 from beyond it."
"I know how young you are Aunt Mary. You can't snow me. You're probably as spry as ever."
"Snow me. That's a nice turn of phrase considering where we are. It won't be long until Mother Nature is snowing all of us."
"When is the first storm expected?"
"Not for another week or two from what I've heard."
"Got it," Marti walked out of the kitchen slidding her hand into Adam's. "Shall we go?"
"We'd better. It's not far, but it's pretty dark now."
"Can you find the Hotel in the dark," Sarah said.
"I think I can manage, but if I get lost, I have the hotel's phone number in my cell. Yours too, of course."
Sarah refreshed his mind by explaining precisely how to get to the hotel from her house.
"So nice to meet you, Sarah" Marti said. "I'm looking forward to seeing Ryan in the play tomorrow night."
"He really is excited. Kind of like his uncle was when he was in plays in junior high and high school. I presume he’s told you about that ."
"I have," Adam said, "And you better not get started on that or we’ll never get out of her. Come on," he pulled on Marti's hand, guiding her through the front door towards the car.
"See you tomorrow," Sarah said as Adam opened the passenger door for Marti.
"You certainly will," Adam said. "The play starts at seven, right?"
"Yes," Sarah said waving.
“How long will it take to get to the school from here?” Adam said.
“It's only about 15 minutes away, but Ryan has to be there 30 minutes early, so we have to leave here by about quarter after six.”
“No problem.” Adam said. “We'll be here.”
Chapter 3
As soon as he pulled away, Marti turned to Adam with narrowed eyes and tight lips. "I've got a question."
He glanced at her. Upon seeing her expression he said, "Am I in trouble?"
"I suppose that depends on how you answer the next question."
"Ouch. What is it?"
"Why did Ryan and Sheila call you Uncle Adam? I thought your name was Robert."
He’d prepared himself for this before the trip. He knew the kids would call him Uncle Adam. "It is. It’s Robert Adam Madigan. The answer to your question is easy. When I was growing up I ran with a bunch of boys and there were several of them named Robert and a couple who went by Bob or Bobby. That being the case, I had them call me by my middle name, Adam. From then on it sort of stuck."
"But I thought you told me that everyone always called you Ram."
"That came a bit later and my sister already had the habit of calling me Adam then she continued to do so. Naturally, her kids picked up the name from her. Even my Mom had the habit of calling me Adam."
"Well, no offense, but I’ve never liked the name Ram. It seems a bit harsh, or something, for a man of your sensibilities. If you don't mind, I’d like to call you Adam as well unless you would rather I call you Bobby."
"Please, not Bobby. That was the name of one of my good friends in college who died a horrible death. You're welcome to call me Adam."
"Adam it is. I hope you didn't think I was too nosey, but I was a bit confused when the kids called you Adam."
He reached over and squeezed her shoulder. "You weren't being nosey. I'm sure the name change was a bit confusing. I should have told you before and then you wouldn't have been surprised. I meant to, but I simply forgot. Can you forgive me?"
"Don't be silly. There's nothing to forgive. I'm just glad my question  had a simple explanation."
In another few minutes the hotel came into view. Adam helped Marti with her door then extracted the luggage from the back. They checked in and the clerk handed them two key cards.
After they put their luggage in their rooms, Adam went back down and moved the car from in front of the door to the lobby to a parking spot not too far away.
When he took the elevator back upstairs, she waited with her door ajar. "Did we forget something?" Adam asked.
"No. I just want you to hold me for a minute. It’ll help me sleep."
"I hope you didn't think I’d refuse an offer like that ."
"I was hoping you wouldn't.
He walked over to her and took her in his arms. Together they slid into her room and closed the door. He was whistling softly when he left her room a few minutes later.

Adam met Marti at the restaurant downstairs at 8 o'clock the next morning as they had agreed. "What would you like to do today Sweetheart?"

Adam smiled. She had yet to use a term of endearment. He hadn't used one either. He didn't want to make her think he assumed  anything. "How about a drive in the country? Or we can go to the seashore if you'd rather. It's only about an hour away."

"A drive through the country on the way to the seashore sounds good. Do you know where to go?"
"No. But I imagine the clerks have maps and are probably familiar with the area."
"True. A map would definitely be a good idea."
A waiter appeared at their table and handed them each a menu. "Would you like coffee?"
"No," Adam said. "How about hot tea instead, but we’ll need creamer. We like milk in our tea."
"I like it that way too," the waiter said. "I'll have the tea right out. I'll take your orders then, if that 's all right."
“Sure." Adam said.
When the waiter came back, Adam ordered a ham and cheese omelet and Marti said that  it sounded good, consequentlyshe ordered one as well. Adam also ordered a glass of orange juice for each of them. “That was all right wasn't it, my lady?”
“What, the orange juice? Of course, and I thank you.”
When the waiter came by with their check on which Adam wrote his room number, Adam stopped him. “Would it be possible to get a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches to go?”
“Yes, of course, sir. Going on a picnic?”
“Of a sort. We're going to drive to the beach and I don't know anything about what's on the route I'm going to take, thus I thought it might be prudent to have a couple of sandwiches just in case there aren't any restaurants.”
“No problem, Sir. I'll have the cook make up a couple of sandwiches for you. Would you like mayo or mustard or both?”
“Just mayo I think,” Adam said and Marti nodded. “We'd also like a bag of chips with that , if that 's possible.”
“It is indeed. Two ham and cheese sandwiches and a bag of chips. I'll have them for you in a few minutes.”
“We're going back to our rooms to freshen up. I'll stop and pick them up in a little while.”
After they’d freshened up they went back downstairs. Adam picked up the sandwiches and chips and got a couple cans of soda out of a machine near the restaurant. They left their bags in their rooms because Sarah had reserved the rooms for two nights since their flight didn’t go backuntil Sunday.
Adam drove them on a direct route to the beach that the clerk suggested because he said it had the nicest beach in the area. He’d also draw their path on a map he’d gotten from the front desk. They stayed at the beach for several hours and then Adam and took a circuitous route back to the hotel. They’d been on the road from the beach for about an hour when Adam pulled off at a roadside picnic area. it had a small flower garden but, unfortunately, it had past its prime. He turned to Marti and said, "Is this okay?”
“Sure is. It's very pretty here even if it’s too late for the flowers.”
Adam got out and hurried around to Marti's side of the car. He helped her out and she kissed him. “Thank you,” he said then opened the back door to retrieved the bag of sandwiches, the bag of chips, and the two cans of soda.
“A veritable feast,” Marti said.
“Nothing's too good for my girl.”
“I won't even call that blarney, because I certainly hope it's true.”
“It is as far as I'm concerned. Sandwich?” He said pulling out a wax-paper wrapped sandwich handing the sandwich to her.
“Thank you.”
He opened the bag of chips and offered her some. She unwrapped her sandwich then laid the wax paper out, in order to  put some potato chips on the wax paper. He gave her a can of soda of the type he knew she likedbest.
They settled down to eat and were through in about fifteen minutes. Adam policed the area making sure not to leave any trash behind. He shook his head at the trash that had been left by other people right next to the trashcan. He picked up a bit of the other trash, but he didn't have time for much. Marti started to help, but he said, “We'd better not spend any more time here. We’ve still got a pretty good drive to get back.”
“Okay. It's just  that I hate seeing people trash such a nice area.”
“I know. I do too. That's why I started picking up their trash. If we had more time, I wouldn't mind cleaning up the entire area, but we don't. Not, at least, if we want to see more of the country and still make it back in time for the play.”
He walked over to her side of the car opening the door for her. Before she slid into her seat he grabbed her and held her tight. “I'm extremely glad you came with me.”
“I can't even begin to express my feelings.”
“Hmmm. An English teacher who can't express her feelings. I never thought I’d see the day.”
“There goes the blarney again.”
“Guilty as charged, this time,” he closed her door then went around to his side of the car to  get in.
They still had some time, so he followed the map taking a meandering path back to the hotel. When they arrived they hurried up to their rooms and changed into the semi-formal clothes they’d brought with them to wear to the play. Adam waited in the hall when Marti came out  wearing a silver lamé gown. “My gosh,” Adam said, “You're more beautiful every time I see you.” He wore a light orange shirt with a blue sport coat and gray slacks.
“You ain't bad yourself,” she put her hand in his. Together they walked to the elevator.
They reached Sarah's house at about quarter after six. Sheila came outside to greet them this time. “Mom was starting to worry.”
When they walked into the house, Adam said, “My confidant tells me you were worried. Surely you didn't think we were going to miss this?”
“I knew you wouldn’t miss it, but I had begun to wonder if you were going to be here in time for us to take Ryan early enough.”
“We still have almost fifteen minutes before we need to leave, according to what you told me last night.”
“Okay, you're right. I guess I'm just a worrywart.”
“Is Ryan ready to go?”
“Yes,” Ryan said, coming into the living room.
“Good,” Adam said. “Let's go.”
“We're going to have to take both cars," Sarah said.
“Can I ride with Uncle Adam?” Sheila said. Then looking up at Adam she added, “It's alright isn't it?”
“Of course it is. We’re happy to have you along. Okay, Sis?”
Since Sarah nodded, the three of them piled into Adams car while Sarah, Ryan, and Mary got into Sarah's car.
Sarah took the lead since Adam didn't know where to gowas. He followed closely, although he knew Sheila would be able to direct them if he somehow lost Sarah. They made it to the school without incident. Sarah and Ryan hurried into the school while the rest followed at a more leisurely pace.
“Where do we go in?” Adam asked Sheila.
“Follow me,” she went through a double door at the front of the school.
Adam paid the admission price of two dollars apiece for all four of them. Then, they went into the auditorium where they got as close to the front as they could. Mary slid into the seats first, then Sheila, then Adam followed by Marti whose hand Adam held again. Mary made sure there to leave one seat between her and Sheila leaving Sarah a seat when she finished backstage with Ryan. Adam got caught up with what had been happening in Sheila’s life while they were waiting. He also asked Mary a few questions.

When the play started they all anxiously waited for Ryan to come on the stage. As is typical in a play done by junior high students, several of the kids forgot their lines, some stole other people's lines, and several times they lost thier timing  and  stepped on one another’s lines. One of the boy’s voices broke on the song in which Ryan sang in the chorus. They were all very attentive when Ryan sang his duet and both Adam and Marti were impressed by Ryan's solo. His voice had good pitch and tone and, contrary to the way a lot of kids his age sing, his voice held strong and clear. At intermission, between acts, the applause grew long and loud and at the end of the play, the applause carried on for several minutes.

When the curtain final finally fell, Sarah stood and said she had to wait for Ryan backstage. When the two of them emerged into the auditorium, Mary hugged Ryan, Adam shook his hand, and even Sheila patted him on the back. They tried to complement him but thee auditorium had too much noise for that to happen without them shouting, thus they waited until they were outside.

As soon as they were outside, Adam said, “You did a wonderful job Ryan.”
“Yes you did,” Mary said. “Were you nervous?”
“A little bit,” he said rather shyly.
“Well, you didn’t look it,” she said.
Ryan looked up at his mother expectantly, “Ice cream?”
“Are you trying to take advantage of the situation, young man?” Sarah said.
Ryan nodded with a smile. He knew his mother had been kidding.
“Well, all right, then, ice cream it is. Okay with you two,” she looked directly at Marti.
“Yes,” she said. “I think this young man deserves a reward for that stellar performance.”
“So do I,” Adam said. “Lead the way, Sis.”
Sarah led the way to the cars and Sheila rode with Adam and Marti again. They had to wait a while before they could maneuver their way out of the parking lot, but the traffic lessened as soon as they got to the main street. There were a number of cars in the ice cream shop’s parking lot. “Looks like everyone had the same idea,” Marti said.
“Hardly everyone,” Adam said. “There aren’t anywhere near as many cars here as at the school.”
Once inside the shop, they had to wait in line for several minutes to get their turn at the counter. Then once they’d received their treat, no seats were available in the small shop. “Looks like we’re going to have to sit in our cars,” Adam said.
“Guess so,” Sarah said. She looked at Sheila, “You be careful with yours. You don’t want to make a mess in Adam’s car.”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Adam leaned down to his niece’s ear and said, “Nothing to worry about. I can always get the car cleaned.”
“I won’t spill,” she said defensively.
They got into the two cars and Adam’s finished his ice creambefore anyone else. He waited until he saw Sarah indicate that she had finished then followed her out of the parking lot.
“Would you two like to come in for some tea and pie?” Sarah said.
“Is there any left?” Adam said. “I thought we finished the pie last night.”
“Since I saw how much you and Marti enjoyed , I baked another one today.”
“I really shouldn’t, not after that ice cream,” Marti said, “But I’d love some.”
“Me too,” Adam said.
They all filed into the house, through the living room, and into the kitchen.
“Yahtzee?” Ryan said.
“I don’t see why not,” Sarah said. “We’ll have to wait for the tea anyway. But only one game. Adam and Marti will need their sleep. They have to fly back tomorrow.” As Sarah filled the teakettle from the sink, Ryan went down the hallway to his room.
“Not until four o’clock,” Adam said. “I plan on coming here for a final visit tomorrow if that ’s okay. How about if I take you all out for lunch?”
“Will you have enough time?” Sarah put the kettle on the stove.
“Plenty. What time do you normally get back from church? I presume you’re taking the kids to church.”
“Yes,” Sarah said. “We go to church. There’s a small non-denominational church not too far away. We go to Sunday school at nine and worship service is at ten. We’re usually back by about eleven-fifteen.”
“Good,” Adam said as Ryan came back into the room then started laying out the score sheets and dice. “We’ll be here by about eleven-thirty. You can take a consensus as to where everyone will want to eat. Marti and I are flexible.”
“Come on,” Ryan said, “Let’s play.”
“Yes sir,” Adam said with a small salute.
They all picked up their die then threw them except Mary who didn't have one. Ryan started to hand her his die after he’d thrown a three, but she declined.
“It isn't necessary. I'll just take my turn when the dice comes around to me.”
Sheila threw the only six whereupon she gathered the rest of the dice taking her turn. They’d played two rounds when the teapot started to whistle. Sarah put the tea bags in the mugs then poured the water. “It'll be just a minute for the tea to steep,” she went to the cupboard for plates for the pie.
“Mom,” Ryan said, “It's your turn.”
“I'll be right there.” She left the plates on the counter, to take her turn. After she had finished she took the tea bags out of the mugs placing a mug in front of each of them. Then she placed the sugar bowl and a milk carton on the table. It didn’t take long until she placed a piece of pie in front of each of them along with a fork.
“Your turn again, Mom,” Ryan said.
“Okay,” she said. She took the dice and tossed a large straight. “Oh, good. I needed that .” She passed the dice to Mary and wrote down her score.
Marti took a bite of her pie and said, “Gosh. This is even better than last night’s pie, if that 's possible.”
“It must be possible, because I agree,” Adam said.
They finished their pie and tea then went back to their game. When they were finished, Sarah had won, though the score had been close because no one had a Yahtzee.
“We’d better go now,” Adam turned to Marti.
“I suppose we should,” she got to her feet turning to Sarah, “Thank you so much for the tea, pie and your hospitality. It has been a lot of fun. And you, young man,” she looked at Ryan, “Better keep up your acting. You have a real gift.”
“Ah,” Ryan said.
“She's right,” Adam said. “I'd better see you in the spring play. At least, I assume they'll have a spring play.”
“I think so,” Sarah said. “They did last year. Unfortunately, it had been already cast when we moved here.”
“I hope you’re right that there will be a spring play,” Marti said, as they walked through the living room to the front door. “I look forward to seeing that one.”
Adam gave Sarah a hug and reached down and kissed Sheila on the forehead before shaking Ryan's hand. “It was an enjoyable performance.”
“Thanks Uncle Adam. “
“I guess we'll see you tomorrow,” Sarah said.
“Count on it,” Adam said.
Chapter 4
Adam opened the door for Marti then sat behind the wheel. He turned to Marti as they drove away and said, “You take a lot for granted.”
“What do you mean?”
“You said you look forward to seeing Ryan's play in the spring. You’re taking it for granted that you'll still be able to stand me by then.”
“I'm glad you put it that way. I thought you were going to say you might not be able to stand me by then.”
“That could never happen,” Adam said.
“Ditto,” she said.
When they got back to the hotel they said an amorous goodbye in the hallway going to their separate rooms.
Adam rang her room at seven-thirty the next morning. “Good morning, Sweetheart. Did you sleep well?”
“I did. Are you ready to go down for breakfast?”
“That's why I'm calling. Are you ready?”
“I'll be in the hallway in just a minute.”
He already waited in the hall when she came out of her room. He wrapped her in his arms and they kissed passionately before they separated. “Shall we?” He said.
Once downstairs, they walked into the restaurant. The same waiter that they’d had the day before came up to the table and asked for their orders. They gave him the same order of tea and ham and cheese omelets making sure to remind him about the milk for the tea. He remembered.
Since the hotel had been built surrounded by a wooded area ,they decided to take a walk to kill time. After a two-hour walk, they went back to Adam’s room and he pulled the Boggle shaker box out of his suitcase. “How about it?” he said.
“I presume you mean Boggle,” she said with a wink.
“I do. What did you have in mind?”
“Only Boggle,” she said with a smile and a hint of a Leer.
“Okay, but I'm not sure I believe you 100%.”
“What do we write on, to change the subject?”
“I thought Boggle was our subject.”
"Okay, if you say so. Anyway, on what are we going to write?"
"You know you don't have to play English teacher when we're alone."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you can feel free to end sentences with prepositions."
"Oh. Occupational hazard. I try to be careful with my students and it's become a habit."
"I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it. I'm only saying you don't have to strain your brain to do it."
"Okay. Now, about the game."
He pulled two small notepads out of his carry-on bag and handed one to her. "I presume you have a pen in that voluminous purse of yours."
"Now, don't pick on my purse. It's not that big."
"But do you have a pen?"
"I'm sure I..." she dug into her purse coming up with a pen. "Yes, I knew I had one."
He went over to the desk picking up the pen that  the hotel left there for guests to write notes or postcards.
"I'll set the shaker box on the floor. That way we can both see it. I’ll time the games with the stopwatch on my watch."
"Do we want to play three minute rounds this time?"
"I thought we might. After all, we won't run out of letter grids as we would have with the ones I wrote down. By the way, I wrote down ten more for our trip back to Charleston."
"Good idea. Now, are you ready to start?"
He readied his watch, shook the shaker box until all the dice fell into the bottom. "Go," he said turning on his stopwatch.
They finished that game and when they tallied their scores, Marti had won.
"Are you throwing the game just to make me feel good?" she asked.
"Of course not. I'm much too competitive for that ."
"Good. I don't ever want you to do something like that . I never want something I haven't earned."
"Is that an allusion to how I got my money?"
"Absolutely not. I don’t have a problem with how you got your money. Whether you see it that way or not, I think you earned the money. Someone had to come out of the dot com boom a winner. I'm just glad it was you. At least you're doing something useful with your money by starting the foundation." Adam had created the Rambling Foundation to help needy people in Canary Corners and in the surrounding area. He’d started by paying $50,000 to the local hospital for cancer surgery for a young girl. He’d also given the parents, Monica and Charles Swathmore, $20,000 to help them out of their current financial crisis. He’d paid for ads on the local TV and radio stations to let people know about the foundation and emphasize the people seeking assistance must go through the foundation's business manager rather than contact him directly. He hired Debbie Harvard, the local bank president’s wife, as the foundation’s business manager to avoid dealing with the day-to-day duties of the foundation. Her duties included filtering the requests for aid so he didn’t get overwhelmed. He knew for certain there would be hundreds of requests in short order. "I just wanted to do something for the people of my new home town."
"And I'm sure in no time you'll be a hero as you already are with the Swathmores."
"I don't want to be a hero, I just want to help."
"That's what I think is so wonderful. There aren't too many people in this "What's in it for me?" country that would be anywhere near as generous without wanting as much publicity and back-patting as they could get."
"I suppose you're right and more’s the pity. But enough of that , let's play the game if you promise not to throw the game my way either."
"Do you think I would?"
"No, I don't think you would  and I want you to promise me the same consideration as I'm going to show you."
She raised her right hand. "Do you have a Bible for me to swear upon?"
"Now cut that out. You know your word’s good enough. Let's play." Adam shook the box until the dice had settled into the bottom and then started his stopwatch. This time he won.
They played ten more games before they thoughtthey should be leaving for Sarah's house. Marti won six of these games.
When they drove up in front of Sarah's house, Ryan waited out front.
"Good morning," Marti said as they walked up.
"Good morning," he said, "Guess where we're going for lunch."
"Uh-oh. I sense pizza coming," Adam said.
"How did you guess?"
Adam smiled. "Just a lucky guess…Not. Is every one else ready to go?"
"I think so. You can check." He jumped up holding the door for both of them.
"Thank you, Sir," Marti said.
"You’re welcome."
Sarah, Mary, and Sheila were in the living room. "Did you ladies let Ryan bully you into having pizza?" Adam said.
"Absolutely not," Mary said. "I love pizza."
"As long as I get cheese pizza," Sheila said.
"You can have anything you want, Sweetie," Adam said.
"We should take both cars again," Sarah said. "There's no sense cramming all of us into one car."
"I agree," Adam said. "I trust we're not going all the way to Harper's pizza. I don't think we should spend that much time driving." They had traveled over an hour to Harper’s pizza when Adam had been there for his mother’s funeral.
"Granted," Sarah said. "I hadn't planned to go there. There's a pizza parlor much closer and they have pretty good pizza although Harper's has the best."
"Anybody want to ride with us?" Adam said.
"I do," Ryan said.
"It's okay with me if it's okay with your mom."
Sarah nodded whereupon Adam led the way to the car and the three of them got in. Once again, Adam let Sarah take the lead. It didn’t take long to drive to the pizza parlor.
They ordered three pizzas; one cheese, one three meat, and one supreme. When they all had their fill, there were eleven pieces left. They got two boxes from the waiter, put the pizza in them, and got into the cars.
"Ice cream?" Ryan said.
"I don't know," Adam said. "It depends on where your mother goes. I'm just following her."
"Okay," he said dejectedly.
Sarah drove straight back to the house. Ryan started to ask why she didn't stop for ice cream but she anticipated the question saying, "We still have pie left and you know Adam loves coconut cherry pie."
"Me too," Marti said.
"Besides," Sarah said, "We have your favorite ice cream, rocky road, for later."
They all followed Sarah into the house. Ryan did look appeased.
Once inside the kitchen, Sarah served pie to all of them than sat down in front of a piece herself. They ate in relative silence. When they were finished, Adam looked at his watch and than at Ryan saying, "I think we have enough time for a quick game of Yahtzee before we have to leave. That is, if anybody's interested."
"I am," Ryan jumped up and hurried down the hallway. He quickly returned with the Yahtzee box handing out the score sheets and one die to everyone but Mary as before.
Sheila won the throw and started the game. The dice passed around the table until everyone had finished. This time Marti won because she’d thrown two Yahtzees.
"Another game?" Ryan said.
Adam shook his head. "No, I think we'd better be on our way."
"Okay," Ryan said picking up the scorecards and dice and putting them back in the box.
They all walked to the door.
"As I said last night," Marti looked at Ryan. "You'd better try out for every play that comes along. You have a real talent for it, especially if they're musicals. You have a great voice."
"And thank you," Marti looked at Sarah  stretching out her arms. Sarah obliged by giving her a hug. "I had such a wonderful time. I can't tell you how glad I am Adam asked me to come."
"We enjoyed having you," Sarah said. "Adam really found a treasure this time."
"Oh," Marti said with a wink. "Have there been that many others."
"That's not what I meant at all," Sarah said.
"I know you didn't and I thank you for the complement, but I'm the one that 's found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," she slid her hand into Adam's.
"I think you both have," Mary said, "You make a very cute couple."
"Okay, enough of the blarney as Marti would say. We'd better get on the road." Adam reached out with his free arm without taking his hand out of Marti's to hug his sister. "Thanks for the pie, Sis. It was terrific."
"I'm glad you liked it."
He let Sarah go and hugged Martha. "It was wonderful seeing you again. As I said last night, it's very nice of you to help Sarah out."
"Glad to do it."
Now Adam did break Marti's hold on his hand which allowed him to  lean down giving each of the kids a hug, giving Sheila a kiss on the cheek as well. "We'll be sure to come back in the spring if you’re in the spring play," he said to Ryan.
"How about me?" Sheila said.
"Oh. Are you going to be in a play?" Marti said.
"The same goes for you, then. If you're in a play, we'll come back to see it. But for now, we'd better go," he turned and opened the screen door. Taking Marti's hand again, they walked out to the car.
Marti and Adam waved as they drove away.
Chapter 5
"Got anything in mind for your next column? After all it's been two weeks since you've turned in any copy," Larry Archibald said when Adam walked into his office Monday morning. Larry owned the newspaper  and acted as editor-in-chief He had been Adam’s friend since they went to grade school together in Chicago.
"I thought maybe it the time had cometo do the column about Canary House."
"That's fine, if that 's what you want to write, because, as we agreed, I won't tell you what to write."
"Why do I sense a but coming."
"Probably because, as we both know, you’re at least a little bit psychic."
"All right. Lay the truth on me."
"Have you heard of or about Mathew Trimble?"
"No. I’ve neither heard of nor about him. Who is he?"
"He's an old time resident of Washington county. His father struck it rich with the Trimble gold mine in the late 1800's. Mathew sold the gold mine about 50 years ago for 45 million but he still has a fortune in gold that he’s kept. He has nuggets as well as quite a few small sculptures made of gold.
“I’m not saying the Trimble story wouldn’t, but why do you think that would make a good colmn?”
“Because I hear he's quite a character.”
“Couldn't I do the Canary House column then the interview with Trimble?”
“You could,. but Trimble isn't in the best of health and he might end up going to either the Coal Mine House or Sunset Village.” The Coal Mine House maintained a managed care facility while Sunset Village consisted of only a nursing home. “If either happens, you’ll probably have missed your chance to see, and, hopefully, photograph, the gold.”
“All right, you’ve sold me. If you want pictures of the gold, I assume at least some of it’s in his house.”
“All of the gold is. He’s like a lot of the old timers around here, he doesn’t trust banks. By the way, he lives in a mansion, not a house.”
“Okay. How do I get in touch with Mr. Trimble?”
“I’ve already talked with him and he's expecting you at about one o'clock on Wednesday.”
“You sly old dog. You knew you could talk me into it.
“Actually, I didn't. If you hadn't agreed to do it, I’d have sent Brenda.” Brenda McClung wrote the local news for the Tweet and, like everybody else on the small newspaper, filled in where she the need presented itself.
“I take it you've arranged for Ralph to be available to take the pictures.” Ralph Gibboon covered the national news and acted as the Tweet’s photographer while also taking wedding and other types of photos on the side.
“I have. You could meet him here at about noon. I suggest you don’t come early and you should eat first. You don't want to go to lunch with Ralph. He eats like you wouldn't believe and expects you pick up the tab. Well, I’ll be. Look at who I'm worried about having to pay for lunch.”
Adam ignored Larry's allusion to his money. “I'll make sure I have lunch and I’ll show up right at noon. Now, if you don't mind, I think I'll go talk to my foundation manager. She already had several requests we needed to talk about and she received several more on Thursday and a couple on Friday, as I recall.
“Go right ahead. I think we're through here.”
“Just one more question. If Trimble keeps his gold in the mansion, do you think it’s advisable to advertise that fact.”
“I hear that he has a very strong security system therefore  he’s not worried about the safety of his gold. Besides, when I talked to him, he’s the one who suggested we take pictures. It’ll make a much better article with pictures then without and he knows that . He also told me it’s no secret he has a lot of gold in his mansion. It’s apparently fairly common knowledge in the area.”
“Of course, it‘ll be a better article with pictures and, I guess if he’s okay with us writing up his treasures, I won’t argue. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t talk him into something that might not be wise.”
“Now when have I ever talked someone into something they didn’t want to do?”
“Do you want me to write the list down or just recite it to you?”
“Funny, now get out of here.”
“Yes, Sir.” Adam walked out driving directly to Brigman's furniture store. His foundation had an office above the furniture store. He smiled as he looked at the image on the door to the office. A local computer artist, Petrik Stavros, had drawn the image for the Rambling Foundation and Adam thought he did a great job. Adam had come up with a few ideas, but Petrik had expanded upon them to create the finished product.
Debbie Harvard, manager of the foundation and of his personal finances as well, sat at her desk pouring over some paperwork when he walked into her office. “Good morning Debbie.”
“Good morning Ram. Did you have a good time at your nephews play?”
“I did indeed. I don't remember if I told you, but it was a musical. Ryan sang one song in the choir and sang a duet with a cute little girl. He had a solo in that song. As it turns out, he has a good voice.”
“You wouldn't be a little partial would you?”
“Of course I would. But you can ask Marti if you don't believe me. She was impressed with his voice too.” Marti and Debbie knew each other since they both belonged to the theater club. Since Debbie had lived in Canary corners most of her life, she knew most everybody in town and that 's one of the reasons Adam hired her as his foundation manager. It would be easier for her to decide which requests for money were legitimate and which ones weren't.
“On to business. What do you have for me?”
“We are now up to 30 requests.” She pulled a couple of pieces of paper off one of the piles on the corner of her desk. “These are the three I think are the most deserving for our second distribution.” She explained the requests then they talked about them for the next hour. When they were through, Adam had decided to fully fund two requests for help with hospital bills but give only half the money requested by Sunset Village to replace a number of wheelchairs  past their prime.
Adam looked at his watch. “I'll be darned. It's almost lunchtime. Would you let me treat you to lunch, Debbie?”
“It's nice of you to offer, but I’m meeting Paul for lunch.”
“Invite him along. I’d love to buy lunch for both you and your husband.”
“That's very generous. Let me call Paul to see if he's interested. I'll be absolutely flabbergasted if he's not. I have never known my husband to turn down a free meal.”
“I'll wait in my office while you talk to him,” Adam left Debbie's office to walk the few steps into his. He booted up his computer to check his e-mail. He’d checked his email in the morning before he went to Larry's office, and he didn't have any new messages then or now. Instead, he found a news article to read  online until Debbie walked in.
“No surprises. He'll be happy to join us as I knew he would.”
“That's good. Where would you like to go?”
“How about Daphne's Eatery? I hear they have a new cook and the food is much better than it used to be.”
“Sounds good to me. I've never eaten at Daphne's. Is Paul ready to go now?”
“Yes. He said I should swing by and pick him up.”
“Why don't you let me drive and we can both swing by and pick him up.”
“Works for me. I never drive when someone else volunteers to drive for me.”
“Let's go then.”
Paul waited in front of the bank when Adam drove up. Then Debbie guided him to the restaurant. Daphne’s had been set up in a small building, but no one would be able to miss it, even though it had a very small sign, because of the bright pink paint job.
“I've passed by this building, any number of times,” Adam said, “but I'd never realized it was a restaurant. Of course, anybody passing by couldn't help but notice the paint job.”
Debbie just nodded then led the way into the restaurant. The young girl at the front counter, behind the cash register, picked up a couple of menus saying, "Follow me please.”
She led them to a booth in the back saying, “Is this all right?”
“Just fine, “Debbie said.
“Your waitress will be right with you,” she walked back to the front counter.
Almost before the other girl walked away, another young girl arrived at their table and took their drink orders. Paul ordered soda, Debbie ordered coffee,while Adam had his traditional Sweetwater. Sweetwater came from a type of mineral water that over a century ago became famously sweet by someone inadvertently dropping two sugar beets in the extremely hot water. The water boiled the sugar out of the beets and, since then,  two beets were added tod the water each month. Sweetwater had almost become a standard drink for the entire county in addition to a large part of the state.
The three of them studied their menus. When the waitress came back Paul ordered a hamburger with fries, Debbie ordered an open-faced steak sandwich, while Adam ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, one of his favorite meals.
Their meals were brought quickly and they settled down to eat. When they were almost done Adam's phone rang. “Hello, Sweetheart,” Adam said as soon as he noticed that the call came from Marti.
“Hello yourself,” she said. “If you don't have any plans tomorrow night, I’d love to cook you a coconut cherry pie to see how I do.”
“I’d love it if you’d cook me a coconut cherry pie. Even more I’d just love to be with you.”
“Thank you for that . I take it that 's a yes, then?”
“It certainly is. What time?”
“How about eight o'clock. That’ll give me time to bake the pie and let it cool.”
“What about supper?”
“Would you mind terribly bringing over one Mason Sandwich with fries for us to share?”
“Just one?”
“Since those things are huge, I think one will be enough for the two of us considering were going to have pie for desert. Would you like ice cream on your pie?”
“That's a good idea.”
“So with pie and ice cream, one sandwich should be enough. Don't you think so?”
“I'm sure you're right, Sweetheart. I'll see you at eight o'clock with one Mason sandwich and fries.”
“I'm looking forward to it,” she said hunging up.
Adam turned to Debbie. “That was Marti in case you didn't figure it out.”
“I had no doubt as to who it was considering you called her sweetheart. I take it you two are hitting it off well?”
“We are. I hope we continue to do so.”
“I hope so too. She's a real nice young lady.”
“Not to mention beautiful and smart.”
“That too,” Debbie said.
When Adam drove Paul back to the bank he said he needed to transfer some more money and he and Paul went in the bank while Debbie waited in the car.
“How much would you like to transfer?”
“Hang on to your hat.”
Paul smiled. “In case you didn't notice, I'm not wearing a hat.”
“Hang on to your topknot then.”
“I won't even comment on that one. Just tell me how much you’d like to transfer. You won't shock me.”
“Okay. How about $1 million.”
“Okay. I take that back. I'm shocked. You have that much in the bank in Chicago?”
“No. I need you to transfer the funds from my brokerage account.”
“That's no more difficult than a wire transfer from your bank. All I need is your account number.”
“Got a piece of paper?”
“Let's go into my office.” They walked to Paul's office where he handed Adam a piece of paper and a pen. Adam pulled out a small notebook, flipped through a few pages, then wrote a number down on the paper, along with something else.
“I gave you the account number, the name of the brokerage company, as well as the direct line to the account executive I’ve been dealing with. Tell him to transfer the money from my money market fund.”
“That should be sufficient,” Paul said. He grabbed a request for a wire transfer from the corner of his desk, filled the request  out, then handed it to Adam for his signature. “Sign this then we should be good to go.”
Adam signed. Paul picked up the phone, dialed the number Adam had given him, and spoke to the man who answered. “I need to fax this form to him. I'll be back in just a few minutes. Oh wait, I never asked, but I presume you want this money transferred into the foundation's account.”
“That's right. I certainly don't need that kind of money in my personal account.”
“Okay. I'll be right back.” He left  came back  two 2 minutes later.
He handed an acknowledgment receipt to Adam. “The money is in the foundations account. Anything else you need?”
“No. That’ll do it.”
Later in the afternoon Adam's phone rang, “Ram, here.”
“Hello Ram, my name is Jeremiah Kinsmith, I'm a DJ for WVST radio here in Canary Corners. I’d like to interview you about your new foundation if that 's okay.”
“Sure, I'd love to give you an interview. The more publicity, the better. We really want people to know that the foundation is here to help."
“That's what I gathered from the news release I read a while back. I've been wanting to interview you for a while, but other things kept coming up. Personally, I think it's a great thing that you're doing, and I’d love to be part of getting the word out even more than your ads have done."
“Great, when would you like to do the interview?"
"I was thinking about tomorrow afternoon if that would be okay with you."
"Are you going to tape it or are we going to be live?"
"I thought we’d go live, and then people can call in and ask you questions."
"I don't think so. You said you read my news release. Wasn't it clear about the fact I don't want to be contacted about the foundation myself? All inquiries are to go through Debbie Harvard my foundation manager."
“I understood that . I just thought, for the sake of the interview, you might want to make an exception."
"Any time you make any kind of exception, people will misinterpret and begin to ignore the rules that were set forth."
"That's probably true. We can still do the show live and just not accept any phone calls."
"That works for me. I think I know where the station is. What time would you like me there?"
“Well, since my show is between noon and four,I thought about two o'clock if that ’ll work for you."
"That’ll work just fine, see you then."

Adam arrived at the VVST station about 10tenminutes until two. He introduced himself to the secretary at the front desk and she ushered him into the station manager's office. A sign on his deskgave his name as Augie Personable. “Hello," Augie stood and stretched out his hand, "You must be Ram.”

“Well, if I must be, I guess I am." Adam shook the proffered hand.

“Are you ready for the interview?"
"I am as long as Jeremiah told you my ground rules."
"He did and we’ll abide by them though I really do wish you'd take some phone calls. It would add immensely to the show."
"If you really do want to do that kind of show, Jeremiah can interview Debbie Harvard, the manager of the foundation.”
“That's an idea. I presume you don't mean in lieu of your interview?"
“No, I'm not going to chicken out on you. I just thought you might want to interview Debbie also."
"Well, we'll see how this interview goes, and then I'll talk it over with Jeremiah. He's my best interviewer, and it’s his show. I give him basically carte blanche when it comes to the show."
The receptionist stuck her head in Augie’s office, “Jeremiah’s ready for Ram now.”
“Okay, we're done here anyway. Misty will show you the way to the broadcast studio."
“If you'll follow me, Sir."
Adam followed her down the hallway and they waited outside a large window where they could look in on Jeremiah broadcasting his show. A small electronic sign on the wallflashed  “Live.” They waited until the sign went off. It meant that Jeremiah now played music or an advertisement because his microphonehad been turned off. Misty opened the studio door and ushered Adam in. Jeremiah stood up shaking  Adam's hand.
“So nice of you to come. You can sit in front of that microphone,” he pointed at a microphone above a desk opposite where he sat in front of his microphone. “I'll signal you when were ready to go on the air.”
Adam waited just a few more moments until they were live. Jeremiah ask him questions about the foundation, where the money for the foundation came from, and a bit about Adam’s past. Adamhad prepared himself for all the questions he felt might be asked. When the interviewended, he felt like it went well and he didn't give any of his secrets away. He had been slightly concerned he might slip, but, based on the questions Jeremiah ask, he didn't even come close.

Adam arrived at Marti’s house the next night with one Mason Sandwich with fries, as promised. He gave Marti a prolonged kiss when she let him in and he held her tight. She looked at the bag hehad. “A Mason Sandwich, I presume.”

“You presume correctly. Did you think for one minute I wouldn’t bring you what you desired?”

“Not for one minute because what I really desire is you.” She winked, leering  at him.
“I think I can accommodate a desire like that .” He sniffed the unmistakable odor of coconut cherry pie wafting in from the kitchen. “No offensive intended, but I really would like to sample some of your pie before I sample more of you.”
“Second best again,” a hurt look crossed her face.
He knew she kidded serious since the pie had been her idea. “Your being second best would never happen. But a fellow’s got to eat. Shall we have supper? Then we can move on to other pleasant things.”
“All right, if you insist,” she led the way to the kitchen. Adam gave a sidelong glance towards the bedroom as they passed.
“I saw that .”
“Busted,” he said with a broad smile.
He set the bag on the table while she retrieved two plates from the cabinet. He pulled the sandwich from the bag, unwrapped it, and put half of the sandwich on her plate. Then he took the crispy, skin-on fries from the baggiving her at least half of them. They immediately dug in though both had other things on their minds. “I really do love these fries,” he said in a food-muffled voice, “Somehow they manage to get them crispy but still soft inside.”
“Me too,” she said between bites.
After they finished their supper, she got up, retrieved two pie plates from the cupboard, and cut them each a generous piece of pie. It had been sitting on the counter beside the oven, cooling off. Then she got a half-gallon carton of ice cream from the freezer and an ice cream scoop from a drawer under the counter. “Would you do the honors,” she said, handing him the scoop?”
“I’d be delighted,” he took the scoop, opened the carton, and scooped some out. He put the scoop on one of the pieces of pie and then said, “How much do you want?”
“Another half scoop should be enough.”
He put a smaller scoop onto the plate and handed the plate to her. She set it on the table in front of the place where she’d been sitting. He scooped roughly the same amount of ice cream in a scoop and a half and placed them on his pie plate. He picked the plate up joining her at the table.
He took his first bite without ice cream. He wanted to taste just the pie. “Delicious.”
“As good as your sister’s?”
“Every bit. I’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this pie and the ones my mother used to bake.”
“That’s high praise indeed.”
“And I mean every word.”
They finished their pie and ice cream without another word. When they were finished, they put their plates in the sink and Adam hugged her from behind and kissed her neck.
“Shall we move to the living room?” she said.
“To start with,” he said with his own leer.
“You’re taking a lot for granted, aren’t you?”
“Am I,” he tried an innocent, little boy look, and failed. They walked into the living room with his arm firmly planted around her waist.
“I suppose not,” She smiled kissing  him deeply as they settled on the couch.
He left her house about two hours later feeling contented with satisfaction infusing every fiber of his being.

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